Review Matters

Welcome to the Center for Scientific Review (CSR)


February 14, 2019

I am honored to have the opportunity to work with an incredibly dedicated staff in fulfilling CSR’s vital mission of ensuring that NIH grant applications receive fair, independent, expert, and timely reviews—free from inappropriate influences—so NIH can fund the most promising research.

CSR’s singular focus on the first level of review based on scientific merit, its independence from any specific NIH funding institute or center, and its efficient operation make it a critically important link in advancing new and exciting discoveries across a broad spectrum of biomedical research.

Below, I have outlined a few initial priorities for the Center. What binds these together is my personal commitment to strengthening the peer review process in a transparent manner, combining objective, data-driven approaches with significant engagement of the scientific community:

  1. Evaluating the quality of review and reviewers – making study sections nimble enough to adapt to rapidly evolving, increasingly multidisciplinary scientific fields, broadening input, and reducing risk-averseness in review.

  2. Addressing bias in peer review

  3. Strengthening the confidentiality and integrity of the peer review process

  4. Incentivizing peer review service

This inaugural Review Matters blog is just a small first step in a broader communications and targeted-outreach strategy. Future blog posts will expand upon the topics above, describing some efforts already underway, with more to come as we tackle these issues together.

We want to hear from you. I invite you to explore our newly designed website, add to the conversation below, and send us your input at Thank you for your interest in peer review. All of us at CSR look forward to partnering with the broader NIH and extramural scientific communities to carry out our important mission.

For more information:

CSR Advisory Council (Sept 2018) Update

CSR Update Presentation at NIDDK council (Jan 2019)

Comments are now closed. If you have thoughts to share with CSR or questions, please email us at


7 Comments on "Welcome to the Center for Scientific Review (CSR)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    I support these serious concerns of anonymous. It is now a real problem. Is NIH or CSR thinking to do anything about these problems jeopardizing the careers of both new and experienced investigators.

  2. Anonymous says:

    1) What is the meaning of A1 applications, if the reviewers for the A1 application are told that you do not have to pay any attention to comments in the A0 application. A0 and A1 application should be reviewed by the same reviewers or the A1 reviewers should be instructed not to raise any new
    questions unless the A0 reviewers had made fatal flaws. Because otherwise this does not follow the principle of well tested peer review process.

    2) Like giving to incentive to the reviewers, there should also be mechanisms to disbar reviewers who are biased ( it is apparent from their comments), do not read the complete applications and write vague comments. They raise questions which are already in the application and suggests unnecessary experiments. The reviewers should review the science as mentioned in the application and should not impose their ideas to the applications as there is no end to this as someone else may have different idea. These reviewer’s main intention is to triage grants and are generally very negative except to their friends. It is very easy to notice them in a study section.

    • Anonymous says:

      Interestingly although many study section members are aware of these problems, it appears that the CSR/NIH do not care to rectify them. Will CSR/NIH do something? Are they listening??

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your comments. We are currently examining the outcomes of A1 proposals as a function of the number of reviewers who assessed the A0. Regarding biased reviews, we encourage investigators to discuss problems directly with both the scientific review officer and their program officer. The ability of the NIH to identify the truly high impact proposals is dependent on fair, expert, and unbiased peer review and so we work hard to avoid bias in review and to address it quickly whenever apparent.

  3. Jane hogmeyer says:

    Does the NIH or CSR want to learn about funded grants from the same investigator that have identical or near-identical Aims? Which official do I contact about such a matter? The abstracts of the funded grants have clearly been cut and paste from each other, and the stated Aims look very similar. Is anyone interested in learning more about this so that tax payer dollars are properly allocated?

    • admin says:

      Yes, NIH and CSR do care about that. It’s important to us to be good stewards of tax payer dollars. There are checks and validations in place throughout our receipt, peer review and pre-award processes to check for duplicate submissions and awards in our system. These include data mining tools designed to identify and prevent duplicative funding. In cases where scientific overlap is identified, we take actions to address it prior to award which may include the renegotiation or removal of overlapping aims. When scientific overlap is identified post-award, NIH may take other actions such as terminating the grant award with the significant or complete overlap and recovery of all costs. There also may be times when abstracts are very similar and yet there are substantive scientific differences in the full applications.

  4. Sy Garte says:

    Congratulations on your appointment, Noni. Well deserved. Best of luck to you and all the staff at CSR.

Comments are closed.